By Polly Pearson , Senior Vice President
Our Blog: The Podium
By David Calusdian, President
An effective program for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) management and communication can fundamentally make an organization stronger, more resilient and more attractive to investors and other key stakeholders, while helping to mitigate long-term risks.
In today’s blog we talk to Evan Zall about how to incorporate public relations into an ESG program. Zall is President of Longview Strategies, a strategic marketing and communications firm with an emphasis on sustainability and finance. With more than 20 years in strategic marketing, Evan believes that strong communications can resolve a great number of complex challenges in the world – and clarifying connections between sustainability and profit is one of those challenges. Evan has been a speaker at national and regional sustainable investing forums, is a founding member of PR Masterminds, and is a contributor to the upcoming book, “Aligning Hearts, Minds, Wallets: A Collective Experience (Reshaping Capitalism for the Greater Global Good).”
By Maureen Wolff, Chief Executive Officer
With a record $20 billion+ flowing into ESG oriented funds in 2019 in the US alone there is no denying that a compelling Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) platform has become a critical component of investor relations programs and overall communications for corporations of all sizes. Investors, proxy advisory firms and debt rating agencies are demanding it. And, other stakeholders including employees, customers, strategic M&A suitors and suppliers are increasingly considering ESG practices in deciding where to work and with whom to conduct business.
ESG can fundamentally make an organization stronger, more resilient and more attractive to key stakeholders, while helping to mitigate long-term risks. At the same time, the lack of an ESG strategy and sustainability narrative can leave a company exposed and at risk on several fronts.
ESG data is being used on every public company today, whether the companies have released ESG information or not. As BlackRock CEO Larry Fink stated in his 2019 Letter to CEOs, “In the absence of robust disclosures, investors, including BlackRock, will increasingly conclude that companies are not adequately managing risk.” Additionally, BlackRock along with State Street and other institutions have committed to vote against directors at companies that do not demonstrate a commitment to ESG.
The events of recent months -- including the global COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice movement -- have further amplified the need for greater corporate focus on a range of ESG initiatives, including risk oversight, supply chain security, IT infrastructure, employee safety, talent management and diversity and inclusion.
While doing nothing on the ESG front is clearly no longer a viable option, implementing an ESG program can seem overwhelming -- particularly if publishing a full-scale sustainability report that meets GRI or other standards would not be feasible for your company right now.
The good news is that ESG is a journey, not a sprint. By taking a few strategic first steps to put a stake in the ground, you can establish a strong ESG foundation to build upon over time and earn tremendous credit from investors, employees, customers and the society at large.
We’ve guided many companies through this “walk before you run” approach. Here is where we suggest you start:
Strategic Messaging, Corporate Governance, Investor Meetings, Presentation Training, Crisis Communications, IRO, Financial Communication, Shareholder Communications, Investor Relations, Investor Relations Firm, IR Trends, Investor Relations Trends, Corporate Communications, Investor Relations Websites, IR Recommendations, ESG
After many months of data breach disclosures and sexual harassment scandals, of frustration about perceived pay inequality and insular boardrooms, the largest financial institutions in the world have finally had enough. Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, fired the first warning shot this year, when in January he issued his annual letter to CEOs, titled “A Sense of Purpose.” In the letter, Fink asked public companies not only to deliver increasing returns but to demonstrate how they make a “positive contribution to society.” And in March, the Council of Institutional Investors (CII), which represents 130 pension funds managing more than $3.5 trillion in assets, called for corporate boards to adopt stricter guidelines for executives violating sexual harassment codes.
Global cybercrime damages are expected to exceed $6 trillion annually by 2021. From hacks of mobile payment and other non-traditional payment systems to data manipulation and sabotage, the external threats to operations and customer and investor perception seem to increase daily. We recently sat down with cybersecurity expert William S. Rogers Jr. of Prince Lobel Tye LLP, a Boston law firm whose attorneys handle matters of local, regional, national and international reach. Rogers, who is chair of the firm’s Data Privacy and Security Practice Group, discussed cybersecurity regulation and its impact on public and private companies.
Strategic Messaging, Corporate Governance, Board of Directors, Reputation Management, Investor Relations, Cybersecurity, Investor Relations Trends, Corporate Communications, IR Compliance, crisis communication plan, cybersecurity communication plan, crisis preparation
When many management teams contemplate the quarterly earnings cycle, they think primarily about compliance – dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s. But while compliance is a major driver of financial disclosure, it should not be the only one – if it were, companies would file the 10-Q or 10-K and leave it at that. Take a more strategic approach to your next earnings cycle with these five tips.
Whether it’s the longtime CEO’s retirement or the recent hire’s sudden exit, communicating the transition of the top executive is one of the most critical messaging tasks a company can undertake. So let’s discuss them both: the transitions that are well-planned, thoughtful and strategic, and those that are likely to catch investors by surprise. Here are three things to remember before your company changes CEOs.
When you do work in crisis communications, you’re often asked to share war stories alongside other communications professionals on conference panels. The cases that are analyzed run the gamut of private and public companies, from small start-ups to large multinationals, in industries from consumer goods and high tech to pharmaceuticals and financial organizations. But there are consistent themes that typically rise from these discussions.
“Somebody’s Watching Me”
In the age of social media, somebody is watching every move that companies and their employees make. And more and more frequently, they are reporting their findings and opinions as fast as Twitter and Facebook will allow. Social media are not only accelerating the pace that information is being delivered but reshaping the entire communications landscape. In today’s crisis situation, anyone and everyone can now add their opinion into the conversation at a moment’s notice.
Global merger and acquisition activity set an all-time high last year, breaking the previous record set in 2007. According to an EY survey in October 2015, 59% of executives planned to actively pursue acquisitions in the coming 12 months. Given that this number is significantly higher than the 40% reported in the survey a year ago, we very well could see another record-breaking year for M&A in 2016.
It’s the ability to tell a compelling story that will get the investment community excited about your company. It’s also a great challenge for even the largest public companies in the country.